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Richardson and Hand taking their show to places they’ve never been

By Alexandra Brothers, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter / August 25, 2023 Edition

CBS couple Jodee Richardson and Nicole Hand are preparing for a province-wide tour in September that will showcase their diverse musical talents.

Richardson and Hand are both freelance musicians who grew up and still live in CBS. Hand’s interest in music was cultivated from an early age as she played in the school band at Frank Roberts Junior High and Holy Heart. These early experiences “paved the way for having a career (in music),” said Hand. Nowadays, in addition to singing, she plays “anything and everything” that she can, including the bassoon, baritone saxophone, piano, and melodica.

Pursuing music “always just seemed a little inevitable,” said Hand. “I’ve just been the happiest when I’m doing it.”

Richardson, a graduate of Queen Elizabeth High School, has likewise enjoyed a long-lasting career in music. He is best known for his skills as a guitarist and vocalist, and was the lead figure in the well known band The Thomas Trio & the Red Albino.

The duo first met in 2015 when Richardson was working as a featured artist with the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra for which Hand plays bassoon. Since then, they have collaborated with Richardson’s rock band the Pathological Lovers and Hand’s saxophone band Ouroboros. They also work together on the creative design and performance teams at Perchance Theatre. Richardson and Hand started dating in 2022 and looking for a new way to combine their skillsets, the couple started performing as a duo at the Open Sky Concert that same year. They have since been playing together consistently all year.

The duo has an especially ambitious collaboration in the works for this fall. Richardson and Hand are setting off to perform at 15 different venues across the island and as far as Labrador. The tour, simply named “Da Tour,” is set to commence on September 1 at the Manuels River Centre.

“We really wanted to start the tour in CBS because we’re both from there,” said Hand.

The tour will feature a wide range of music and entertainment. With just two performers, the events will be what Richardson referred to as “a multi-genre variety show.” In addition to demonstrating the couple’s proficiency as singers, the tour will showcase the plethora of instruments in their combined repertoire.

The type of music they will play on tour is a blend of reimagined Newfoundland classics and original folk songs. When it comes to writing music, the couple especially loves to draw on their experiences as musicians in Newfoundland. “Da Tour” will expound on this love as the couple is planning to write what Richardson called “a musical travel-log” over the course of the tour.

“The idea is to write a song as we go along and include a little verse from every venue. So, we’ll write the next verse on the road to the next show,” said Hand.

In addition to his musical performances, Richardson will also perform original recitations in the Newfoundland tradition as part of the show. One of the recitations tells the story of the mischievous adventures of their dog Nan, who will be joining the couple on their tour. “Our show is fun,” said Hand. “It really is entertaining. There’s lots of storytelling that comes into it, lots of jokes.”

The inspiration behind the cross-province tour came when the couple played a show at a small venue in Gander earlier this year. Richardson and Hand recalled staying at the venue and chatting with their spectators until four in the morning.

“We had such an exceptional time meeting everyone,” said Richardson.

When the topic of a tour was first thrown out by one of their fellow musicians, the couple became determined to make the idea a reality, said Hand. Their plans quickly fell together as they reached out to their respective connections — and some strangers — across the province.  

“We just started talking to people and finding sort of all the little places that we would love to visit and seeing if there were venues there,” said Hand, adding the province is “thriving” with inns, breweries, cafés and other small businesses that are perfect for their show.

Getting the chance to play at small venues and in small communities is something that both Richardson and Hand greatly appreciate. Richardson said he is looking forward to being “a part of the bottom-up entrepreneurial development that’s happening around the island.” He said he is excited to visit places that are improving their infrastructure and expanding their communities.

The tour is scheduled to make a stop in St. Lewis in Labrador — a town whose population is under 200. In addition to playing two shows in St. Lewis, Richardson and Hand are offering a songwriting workshop at the St. Lewis Academy. Hand said she sees their journey to the small far-off town as “a great adventure.”

Both Richardson and Hand described their upcoming tour as “a dream” that they are excited to be able to bring to life.

“We’re going to places we’ve never been before,” said Hand, who expressed her love of discovering new places across the province. “We’re just really excited to see new parts of the island and meet new people there. We just want to make these connections so that we can go back every year.”

Nicole Hand, right, and musical partner Jodee Richardson are setting off across the province for a
tour of their multi-genre variety show that will include a plethora of instruments and a range of
original and traditional songs. Photo by Alick Tsui.

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